I recently finished reading a great book that I wanted to share, Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. This focus of The Power of Habit transcends industries and following the advice in the book can benefit anyone who suffers from bad habits. A bad habit could be something as small as chewing your nails or late night binge eating or as big as smoking or drinking alcohol excessively. Are you a morning jogger who has a productive day or are you a snooze button pusher who tends to procrastinate? Taking a closer look at our daily routine and deciphering what can trigger these habits and how we can create healthier ones can have a dramatic impact on both our personal and professional lives.
In his book, Duhigg discusses the neuroscience behind habits and supports his argument with experiments that have been done at M.I.T. for over a decade. The science behind habit formation and the way to break your bad habits was broken down in an easy to follow flow chart (see below). When looking at what habits you want to change, Duhigg illustrates three areas to focus on: The Cue, The Reward, and The Routine.
There are many bad sales habits; talking/pitching too much, procrastination, over-scheduling appointments, ignoring customer needs, unresponsiveness, poor time management, failing to follow the sales process, not creating a sense of urgency, etc. As a manager, your role is to put your staff in the best position to succeed. If you, as the manager, have these same bad habits, they are almost guaranteed to trickle down to your staff. Observing your own bad habits and making a conscious effort to change can be very motivational for people on your team as leading by example is one of the most effective ways to influence others. Use the flow chart above to evaluate your habits and determine if you can institute a more effective process and better habits into your sales routine.
Learning what initiates the bad habits could be as simple as re-evaluating your process. You could have inadvertently helped to instill the same bad habits in your employees, even in the earliest days of their training, by following a flawed process, influenced at least in part by poor habits. Determine what the “Cue” is that creates the urge which is prompting the habit. Substitute positive “Rewards” in place of the existing habit to determine if the “craving” or need has been replaced. Once you have determined the best way to proceed, install the new process into your company’s “Routine” and you will see a noticeable difference.
Example: Quarterly Goals.
The Cue: At the beginning of the quarter how are your reps feeling? Do they appear lazy or are they as energized as they were just a few weeks ago. Your sales rep’s calendar is always booked for the last few weeks of quarter. They have filled all openings and gaps to try and make that final push to hit your company’s goals. What kind of emotion do you think they are feeling? Anxiety, excited, or stress? Your reps have been procrastinating in building their pipeline because they determined that they still have a few months until the end of quarter. Now that the quarter’s end is here, they are struggling to manage all of the appointments they have set for themselves and the quality of their conversations is diminishing. The Reward: Change the philosophy and begin promoting monthly targets instead of focusing on the quarter’s numbers. Install a plan that will have your reps approaching each month as if it was the last month of the quarter. Determine the best philosophy and substitute this approach for what has been the normal process. Once you have noticed a positive effect, you must supplant this new process into your normal business “Routine”.
Bad habits have a tendency to affect both our personal and professional livelihoods. I challenge you to look at the habits you want to change, analyze what is leading you to perform these habits, substitute a reward in its place and install this change into your daily/weekly/monthly routines.